Just as your hospital has a Communication Policy in place, your hospital should have a Social Media Policy in place.
Social Media Policy in the hospital setting is two-pronged:
Unofficial Outposts: Guidelines for responsible participation by employees and volunteers in regard to their personal blogs and personal activity/posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Official Outposts: Guidelines for messages, updates, and activity in Social Media that your hospital endorses such as a Facebook Group or Page or a Twitter account for the hospital. Official Outposts are usually handled from within the Marketing, Public Relations or Community Relations Department.
Your Social Media Policy for Unofficial Outposts should be an amendment to your Code of Conduct. The update should be a collaboration between HR, Legal and Marketing and should be communicated to the entire staff.
Your hospital’s Social Media Policy for Official Outposts can simply be an amendment to your current Communication Policy due to the fact that a smaller group of people are participating (Marketing, PR or Community Relations Department).
Suggestions in regard to Unofficial Outpost Policy:
- Guide the employees on use of Social Media in regard to mentions, posts, updates, etc so that they are not discouraged from participating. Your hospital hires good people – show them off.
- Remind employees that their posts and updates on Social Media is not only a reflection of themselves but of the hospital and to use good judgement.
- Work with Legal on establishing rules in regard to sharing confidential information, patient info, etc
- Empower employees with how to respond to negative feedback, updates, etc that may be posted about the hospital.
- Communicate your expectations on complaining about one’s job, making negative comments about the hospital, defaming the competition, etc.
- Remind employees that posts and updates are not private. The world wide web is in the audience.
Suggestions in regard to Official Outpost Policy:
- Define the purposes/objectives for each Social Media channel selected (i.e. Using Twitter to monitor what the public is saying about your hospital).
- Communicate the advantages of participating to the entire department and just as important, if not more so, to the board, CEO, etc.
- Ensure there is thorough understanding of each Social Media channel within the department as well as the board, CEO, etc. If necessary, utilize one of the tutorials on (where else?!) YouTube.
- Include current policy for corporate identity/branding
- Communicate that official outposts should be authentic, transparent, within good taste, respectful of copyrights, and protective of confidential and proprietary information. In addition, official outposts should be relevant, and bring value to the audience.
- Include in the policy details for handling complaints and negative comments including the importance of responding immediately, responding in the same medium as the complaint appeared and responding with a standard reply (i.e. “I am truly sorry that this happened. Please contact me at ________ or Direct Message me. I would like to help.”).
- Incorporate guidelines for crisis management of your hospital as it relates to Social Media.
- Communicate directives regarding posting patient’s personal health information including photographs, dispensing medical advice, etc
Most importantly, as Social Media evolves, so must your Social Media Policy. Your Marketing/Public Relations/Community Relations Department should work in tandem with Human Resources and Legal to insure proper guidelines are developed and then properly communicated with the appropriate staff.